Give Me a Break in Ireland and Spain: Global Learning at Oak Knoll

While many in our community were using Spring Break to find pockets of peace and relaxation, two groups of Oak Knoll students were on busy educational exchanges to Barcelona, Spain and Killiney, Ireland under the auspices of Oak Knoll’s Global Learning Program.

Grace Ritter ’25, Moira Joel ’25, Chloe Bourneuf ’25, Caitlin Canal ’25, and Gwyn Healy ’25 headed off to Ireland for two weeks to attend classes and explore the area surrounding Holy Child Killiney school. They stayed with host families and shadowed students in the school.

Emmalyn Lacz ’23, Ciara Loughrey ’25, Keira Ardise ’25, Abigail Flood ’24, Grace Cannizzo ’23, Sophia Duhart ’25, Annie Farrell ’25 were staying with families in Barcelona associated with Jesuïtes Sarrià Sant Ignasi school and shadowing students there as well as touring the city. Both groups benefited from full immersion in the language and culture of another country.

“I’m cosmopolitan, the whole world is my country,” said Cornelia Connelly, founder of Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child and the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. This is also the philosophy of Oak Knoll’s Global Learning Program. Students have the opportunity to understand other cultures, while promoting peace, greater understanding, and appreciation for others.

The relationship to Barcelona and Killiney will be annual but past trips have been taken to important historical and cultural sites in Italy which align with our Latin curriculum; a long weekend trip to Québec in support of our French program, as well as trips to Austria, Germany and Czech Republic to enrich our music program. Future trips will be offered according to the interest of our students.

While in Ireland, students not only attended classes, they participated in outdoor pursuits, visited Microsoft Dreamspace, attended social and cultural activities, traveled by Irish Rail to Dublin where they worked in groups to discover iconic places, faces, and historic sites.

In addition to attending classes, the Barcelona group toured sites including Park Güell, The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (the world’s largest unfinished Catholic church), Cosmocaixa Museum to learn about the contributions of women in Science, a local market to practice their spanish and purchase items to make a typical “American” meal for their host families, a field trip by train to a seaside village south of the city, a visit to the Gothic Quarter as well as Barcelona’s Seaside Quarter where they boarded the ship Golondrinas and sailed into the harbor for an alternate view of the city.

“I loved going to places in Barcelona with my host, such as an amazing Tapas restaurant, that I would never have visited if the trip had just been with my family,” said Ardise.

“I originally signed up for this program because my dad had a really great experience hosting an exchange student from Chile when he was in high school, so I was excited to be able to participate in something similar,” said Flood. “My favorite part of visiting Barcelona was getting to see the beautiful city and of course trying lots of new and delicious food. I also am so glad that I met such a great friend through this program (Maria!!) who I still talk to every day.”

“It was a new and fun experience like never before. It really helps grow your independence,” added Duhart.

“I wanted to participate in this trip to Ireland because I was interested in creating relationships with new people and being involved in new experiences,” said Canal.

Congratulations to these world travelers for stepping out of their comfort zones and putting their Spring Break to global use. Visit the #OKSGlobal Highlights Reel on our Instagram page for student social media takeovers on these trips and other Global Learning Program trips dating back to 2016.